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The author is an award-winning youth advocate. He is the co-founder of a number of community initiatives including the Youth Congress, a premier youth-led organization in Kenya.
Azziad Nasenya is living her childhood dream as a radio presenter. She has stormed the world as an all-star radio host, content creator and actress. But it is how Azziad uses radio to champion important environmental and social justice causes that makes her stand out. Recently, I caught up with Azziad to learn more about her background and hear how fame has changed the trajectory of her life. That interview is as follows.
Raphael Obonyo: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Azziad Nasenya: I am an actress, content creator and radio host. I host the What’s Up 254 breakfast show at Sound City Kenya.
Obonyo: What are your passions?
Nasenya: I love music, travelling and experiencing new cultures.
Obonyo: How did you first get your start in the world of radio?
Nasenya: I studied journalism at the Kenya Institute of Mass Communication from 2018. I loved the idea of being on radio because there’s no need to dress up most of the time. I wanted to hone my practical skills, so I started vlogging and creating content on TikTok. Towards the end of my studies, I heard that Sound City Radio, which is based in Nigeria, was opening in Kenya. I interviewed for the job and got it. After some months of in-house training, we went live on June 1, 2021.
Obonyo: How did you get into content creation?
Nasenya: I have always wanted to be a star. After high school, I got into theatre acting. I also happen to be a very good dancer. When I saw a friend’s TikTok video, I thought this is something I could do with all my skills: acting, dancing and lip sync. One of my first few videos went viral in India and in 2020 another two videos went viral in Africa.
Obonyo: What topics do you specialize in as a content creator and, now, radio host?
Nasenya: My passion lies in education. I take every opportunity to inspire my audience to not ever stop learning. Learning is a lifelong journey and it takes many forms. It is an important tool for me as a radio host. As a content creator, I have to keep up to speed with social media trends, tools, techniques and even gadgets to make my work easier. There’s always something to learn. I also encourage my audience to go for formal education. Education opens the mind to think differently; to critique situations. It is the reason I joined the “Save Our Future” campaign as [an] Official Global Ambassador, to lend my voice to the call for governments to prioritize funding for education.
I also involve myself in any opportunity to champion cyber safety and security. I have been involved in campaigns against cyber bullying, doxing and campaigns for child online protection in collaboration with the Communications Authority of Kenya.
I speak about things that affect our present and future — notably climate action. Early this year I took part in the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) @ 50 activities in Kenya. I have also participated in other events to speak on the place of young people in climate action.
Further, my content comprises pieces on issues affecting young people and issues affecting girls and women.
Obonyo: You’ve became very popular with millions of followers across social media at a very young age. When you experience such fame, what is it like? Tell us about the good and the bad of the experience.
Nasenya: The Good: One of the things I’m grateful for is my online audience. It is difficult to describe the satisfaction of getting feedback from my audience on my content. I appreciate every second taken to interact with my content.
My social media presence came with brand engagement deals, which is a plus.
The Bad: When I became famous, my life changed. I had to really think through all my activities. Currently, my schedule is full most of the time, if not with my own content creation or radio job, with client deliverables. I learnt that to balance work and rest, I need to schedule time for rest just as I schedule work.
The Ugly: Yes, there’s an ugly side to popularity. Cyber bullying, cyber stalking and doxing are among the worst experiences I have had. When I first went viral in Kenya, someone on my contact list leaked my number. I got many calls texts and WhatsApp messages until it was impractical to continue using the phone. I have experienced cyber bullying, people posting mean comments and, occasionally, people stalking me to try and find out more about my private life. My management team came through for me, kept my head above water and taught me how to navigate the ugly.
Obonyo: You have been outspoken about the need for urgent action against climate change. How are you using radio to champion that cause?
Nasenya: As a radio host, I use opportunities to directly speak for climate action. Social media is one of the tools at our disposal — something we can use to reach target groups such as the youth. It takes joint effort to fight for Only One Earth.
Obonyo: How can radio be used to fight climate change in Africa?
Nasenya: Radio is a powerful tool and can be used to reach masses, as well as special groups. It can also be used to communicate specific messages, such as climate change based on real-time happenings.
Obonyo: What can you tell our readers around the world about the power of radio?
Nasenya: Radio gives us a platform to connect and really listen, regardless of borders or differences. It empowers audiences with knowledge and information. In this fast-paced world, radio teaches us to listen and think. It is therefore effective in inspiring listeners.